Online Manual for the Forest Tree Seeds of Kerala

A Kerala Forest Department Funded Project

Dr. K Sudhakara
Professor & Head of the Department
Dept. of Silviculture & Agroforestry
College of Forestry, Kerala Agricultural University, Thrissur 680 656
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Scientific Name  Anacardium occidentale L.
Vernacular name  Kasumavu, Parankimavu (Malayalam); Muntiri paruppu, Kola mavu, Mundiri (Tamil); Kaju (Hindi) (Gamble, 1922).
Common name  The Cashew nut tree (Gamble, 1922).
Family  Anacardiaceae
Origin  South America (Sasidharan, 2004).
Distribution  Cultivated widely on the sea coasts. Introduced by the Portuguese from Brazil centuries ago in Goa and now commmon in India. It is cultivated in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Orissa and West Bengal (Bhat et al., 2003).
Description  A small tree with short, thick, crooked trunk, 18 to 12 m high.
Flowering season  December to April / March to May (Sahni, 2000).
Fruiting season  March to June.
Flowers  Small, yellow, with pink stripes borne in 15-25 cm long, terminal panicles, with both staminate and hermaphrodite flowers. The perianth is typically pentamerous. There are from 8 to 11 stamens, of unequal size, 1 or 2 being about 7.9 and 6.1 mm in length in staminate and hermaphrodite flowers, respectively, compared to 3-5 mm for the others. Gynoecium, style and stigma are present in both hermaphrodite and male flowers, although rudimentary in the latter. The carpel size varies from 0.1-6.0 mm for staminate and 6.0-12.0 mm for hermaphrodite flowers, respectively (Ascenso and Mota, 1972).
Fruits  Drupe is a kidney-shaped nut, hard smooth, oleaginous, 2.5 cm long, seated on a fleshy thick hypocarp which is 5 to 8 cm long, formed of the enlarged torus and calyx base (Troup, 1921).
Fruit type  Drupe.
Seeds  One seeded, greyish white nut.
Seed length 
Seed width 
Seed thickness 
Seed weight  150 - 300 seeds/kg.
Seed dispersal  Birds and Bats.
Seed Collection  Ripe pods are collected from the trees, dried and seeds are extracted, cleaned and stored (Vanangamudi and Natarajan, 2006). Nuts are collected from the ground under the mother tree during the month of April to May.
Transportation of seeds 
Seed processing 
Seed storage  Cashew shows orthodox seed storage behaviour (Mwasha et al., 1998). After sun-curing, cashew seeds are stored in polyethylene bags at 10oC for one month (Hore and Sen, 1999).
Viability period 
Seed emptiness 
Seed pre treatment  Pre-soaking cashew seeds in chloroform or acetone for 2 h hastens and partially synchronize germination and advanced field emergence. The organic solvents remove the waxy layer of the pericarp and thereby facilitate water imbibition and phenol exudation (Subbaiah and Chenchu-Subbaiah, 1982).
Germination type  Epigeal.
Germination percentage  Increasing medium salinity reduce germination percentage and rate, as well as seedling growth (Soares et al., 2000).
Germination period 
Nursery technique  One seed is sown in each polybag with the stalk end facing upwards and in a slanting position with a depth of 5-8 cm. Shade may be given. Watering is frequently done to keep the soil moist until 3-4 leaf stage. Germination is noticed in 10 days time. Later after germination the seedlings are transplanted (Vanangamudi and Natarajan, 2006). The media has significant effect on number of days to first and 50% seedling emergence, and percentage of total emergence in cashew (Baiyeri, 2003). A light seedbed medium of rotted coir waste encourage rapid germination and permits lifting of seedlings with a minimum of lateral root damage (Adams, 1975). As a sowing medium sawdust or its mixture with sand could be used (Ibikunle and Komolafe, 1973).
Method of propagation  By seed, side grafting (Nagabhushanam et al., 1979) and layering. Patch-budding in cashews results in 71% success (Palaniswamy and Hammeed, 1976; Ferraz et al., 1974). Air-layering and inarch grafting (Damodaran, 1985) are also successful.
Vegetative propagation 
Diseases  Powdery mildew infection (caused by Oidium anacardii) occurs on the panicles of cashews (Masawe et al., 1997). Root rot disease of cashew seedlings caused primarily by Pythium ultimum. Complete control is achieved with dexon at 113.6 kg/ha, especially when incorporated in the soil (Olunloyo, 1976).
Medicinal properties  Roots are considered as purgative. The gum from the bark is recommended in leprosy, ringworm and also used for preventing hair loss.
Uses  The bark of T. ciliata is used in traditional medicine as an astringent and antiperiodic, and in the treatment of chronic infantile dysentery and ulcers (Singh and Plant, 1995). Anacardium occidentale used as mouth freshener in Gujarat (Patel, 2004). Fleshy peduncles of the fruit is known as 'cashew apple', while the fruit is the kidney-shaped nut attached to it. The white kernels in the nuts possess pleasant taste and flavour. They are eaten either raw or fried and salted or sugared, also used in large quantities in the preparation of sweetmeat and in confectioneries. They constitute a highly nutritious and concentrated food. The commercial shell oil is used in paints, varnishes and many other industrial purposes. Cashew apple is edible and yield a delicious beverage. The juice is fermented and made into a wine which retains the flavour of the fresh fruit. The tree yields a pale yellow to reddish gum (Bose et al., 1998).
Wood properties  It is fairly hard and reddish brown in colour. It is a diffuse porous wood with indistinct growth rings. Wood is reddish-brown, moderately hard. Pores large, filled with pithy substance, prominent on a vertical section. Medullary rays fine, dark, interrupted, indistinct (Gamble, 1922).
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